Monday, April 12, 2004
Shaw and Stratford Festivals Preview--2004
Shaw and Shakespeare Festivals beckon you!
It’s that time of year again. The weather is turning nice, the orange barrels signaling road repairs are going up, it’s vacation time. And, if you are at all interested in theatre, the “in” place to go for a mega-sized offering of good productions is Canada for the Shaw and Stratford festivals. And, to make it even more tempting, the Canadian dollar is still a good buy against the US buck.
THE STRATFORD FESTIVAL OF CANADA
The Stratford Festival of Canada takes place in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. The ride from Cleveland is about six hours through Buffalo. Go on-line to the festival to get directions. The web address is www.stratfordfestival.ca.
Productions, which started May 4 run through October 31. Spring and summer offerings include: ‘A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM,’ ‘GUYS AND DOLLS,’ ‘MACBETH’, ‘KING HENRY VII (ALL IS TRUE),’ ‘THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO,’ ‘ANYTHING GOES,’ ‘NOISES OFF,’ ‘TIMON OF ATHENS,’ ‘CYMBELINE,’ KING JOHN,’ THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE,’ ‘THE SWANNE: QUEEN VICTORIA,’ ‘THE ELEPHANT SONG/THE HUMAN VOICE.’
Besides the performances there are post-performance discussions, costume and prop warehouse tours, backstage tours and garden tours.
What’s the lodging like? I’d opt for one of the many bed and breakfasts. Sorry, I can’t recommend a specific choice. We are trying one this summer instead of staying in a hotel. I’ll report on it when I do my reviews later this season.
Last season I made some recommendations for shopping and eating. I’ve been requested to repeat those ideas. For shopping, I strongly recommend Davis Canadian Arts (106 Ontario Street). This is a wonderful art gallery that offers Canadian traditional and contemporary sculptures, ceramics and paintings. For women’s quality clothing make sure to stop at The Touchmark Shop (137 Ontario Street). The establishment offers unique and one-of-a-kind products at excellent prices.
Hungry? For moderate cost, high quality, try The Annex Room (38 Albert Street). For a slightly higher priced meal Bentley’s, a sister to The Annex, is good. I had a very negative dining experience at Carters on Downie. My expensive halibut main course consisted of a fish stick-sized piece of fish and four asparagus spears. It’s lunch portions at upscale dinner prices. And, unlike most Canadian restaurants, the service was poor. For a relaxed and fairly inexpensive breakfast treat try Demetre’s Family Eatery (1100 Ontario Street).
I’ll be visiting the theatres in June and will be giving my suggestions for what shows to see.
Call Stratford Escapes, a division of Niagara Falls Tours for reservations. For information call 877-356-6385 or go on line to www.niagarafallstours.com. For individual tickets or a festival brochure call 800-567-1600 or go on-line to www.stratfordfestival.ca.
THE SHAW FESTIVAL
The Shaw Festival is perfromed in three lovely theatres in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada, an easy four-hour trip from Cleveland. You travel through the wine countries of Ohio, New York and Canada enroute. It’s worth the ride, even if you don’t go to the theatre, to visit the lovely little city. And, if you are a gambler or want some interesting side-trips, Niagara Falls is less than half-an-hour away as is the Welland Canal. Toronto is a short drive away.
Productions run from April 2 through December 4. This season’s productions include ‘PYGMALION,’ ‘THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST,’ ‘THREE MEN ON A HORSE,’ ‘PAL JOEY,’ ‘AH, WILDERNESS!,’ ‘RUTHERFORD AND SON,’ ‘WAITING FOR THE PARADE,’ ‘THE TINKER’S WEDDING,’ ‘MAN AND SUPERMAN,’ ‘NOTHING SACRED,’ ‘HARLEQUINADE,’ and ‘FLOYD COLLINS.’
Again, I’ve been asked to repeat my comments on the Niagara area restaurants, shopping and places to stay. The area is dotted with wineries, many of which, besides offering wine tastings and sales, have restaurants . I have, in general, been disappointed in the winery restaurants with the exception of Inn on the Twenty, located in historic Jordan Village (www.innonthetwenty.com), about forty minutes from Niagara-on-the-Lake. It ranks as one of my favorite restaurants in the world. The service is always wonderful, the facility is beautiful, the gardens behind the facility lovely, and the food is outstanding! This is a “must go-to.”
Also on the must do list is eating at The Queenston Heights Restaurant. Located in a park just over the Canadian line, the facility has a breathtaking view of the Niagara River gorge. I’ve been there a dozen times and never had a meal that was anything less than outstanding. Try and get seated at one of Christine’s tables. She’s a total delight and a wonderful server.
Fans Court Chinese Restaurant (135 Queen Street) is a good buy. It has a very pleasant outdoor patio and the food is fine. Try the fruit chicken dish for a different taste treat.
Greaves Jams and Marmalades is famous for its products since 1927. A Niagara tradition is the Maple Leaf Fudge store. Also, don’t miss out on the several stores that sell frozen yogurt which is blended before your eyes with Niagara fresh fruits.
The area has many excellent hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. We have found Abbotsford House Bed and Breakfast to be our home-away-from-home. Owner Margaret Currie is a total delight. Her breakfasts are scrumptious, she gives a new meaning to the word “clean,” and the antiques and decorations are impeccable. Return guests are the rule here. For reservations and/or information call 905-468-4646 or e mail AbbotsfordBandB.com. Splurge places include The Prince of Wales Hotel, Queen’s Landing Inn and The White Oaks conference Resort and Spa.
For theatre information, lodging suggestions or tickets call 800-511-7429 or go on-line to www.shawfest.com. Ask about packages that include lodging, meals and tickets. Also be aware that the festival offers Sunday night specials, rush tickets and senior matinee prices.
Friendly people, good value and wonderful theatre awaits you hosted by our neighbors to the north.